As first revealed by Hunting Leaks, AXA provides legal fee insurance to The Hunting Office. This Office is responsible for the administration of hunting across the UK. The policy covers Hunting Act offences, and violence towards hunt saboteurs. When members of hunts are arrested, interviewed by the police or have to attend court, their legal costs are covered by AXA.
A leaked document on the Hunting Leaks website showed that in the first year of the policy in 2014/15 actually saw Axa lose money due to the high number of claims. AXA was paid insurance premiums of £181,815, and insurance claims amounted to £267,887.
AXA's policy states that in order to make a claim the hunts must provide for example “Photographic and / or Video evidence “ to show that they are “Hunting within the Law”. So if a hunt is unable to provide evidence of legal trail laying they won't be covered by the policy. This point was stressed in leaked Hunting Office webinars where the panel stressed the importance of overt trail laying, not because the hunts are actually hunting legally but because they need to try and convince anyone watching, including the police and their own insurance company, that they are.
Many AXA customers have been horrified to discover what their insurance company is involved in. Since we [The Hunt Saboteurs Association] launched our campaign hundreds of people have contacted us to tell us that they won't be renewing their AXA insurance policy. Demonstrations have been held across the country highlighting AXA's participation in animal abuse and their social media channels have been bombarded by disgusted customers.
AXA’s only public response has been on Twitter in April 2021 where they said:
“Thanks for bringing this to our attention. We will look into the points raised. While AXA is committed to a confidential relationship with our customers, we are mindful of any concerns expressed. We only support businesses and individuals who operate within the law.”
Without insurance all legal costs for every Hunting Act arrest, court case or conviction or any act of violence or public (dis)order would have to come either directly from a hunt’s own funds or from a central pot that all hunts contribute towards. If it comes from a central pot then hunts who face less legal action may well wonder why they are paying out for others.
AXA’s insurance provision is critical in allowing hunting to continue in the UK. Without insurance policies, hunts could not afford to risk being caught hunting wild animals and abusing those who try to stop them.
We believe the decision for AXA is clear, not only morally but also financially – they must axe the hunts.
An AXA spokesperson responded to this article:
“While AXA is committed to a confidential relationship with all our customers, we are also mindful of any concerns that are raised to us. We would only work with businesses and individuals who operate within the law and, on all of our insurance policies, illegal activity in any walk of life would invalidate any claim. Additionally, AXA would take action if we receive evidence that one of our customers has been falsifying claims information.”